If you have been told to put your cat onto a prescription food. You may be wondering about the logistics of feeding this to your cat. For example, can you mix prescription cat food with regular cat food, or does it cause problems?
You should talk to your vet before making any decisions about your cat’s food if it needs prescription food, but in general, you shouldn’t be mixing prescription food with regular food. Regardless of why your cat was put on prescription food, it will not be helped by being on regular food.
Why Can’t I Mix Regular And Prescription Cat Food?
Prescription cat food has been specifically formulated to help cats deal with specific issues. These issues can vary enormously. But the food’s formula has been carefully designed to help ensure the cat gets the correct quantity of every kind of nutrient.
This is done by working out how much of the food a cat will eat in a day. And how much of each nutrient and vitamin needs to be in that food.
When the manufacturer does these calculations, it bases them on the idea that the cat will only eat the prescription food – because they have nothing else to work with, which is the common scenario.
If you give your cat regular food mixed in, you will be dramatically altering the quantities of the nutrients.
For example, if your cat is on a low protein diet and you start giving it regular cat food mixed in, you will be increasing its protein intake.
This goes for any kind of prescription food that your cat is on. If you “dilute” the food with regular cat food, you will also be diluting the effect and changing how much it can help your cat’s medical condition.
Does It Matter?
How much it matters depends on how much your cat needs that food and how serious its medical conditions are. Of course, it also depends on how the food works.
For example, mixing two foods specifically targeted at curing urinary tract issues can be problematic for the cat.
Because the different brands work in different ways, mixing them will reduce the effect of both and stop them from doing the job they need to do.
Other prescription foods may be interchangeable, but you will need to do more detailed research about the specific kind of food that you are offering to your cat.
In some cases, it may not matter very much. For example, if your cat is on a prescription diet to help with a condition, but it is relatively minor. It may not matter if you mix a bit of regular food into its prescription food.
However, it will make an enormous difference to your cat’s health and possibly its life expectancy in some cases.
You should never mix regular food into prescription food without discussing this with your vet first. You might also want to consult a pet nutritionist, who will sometimes have more information than your vet and can offer a second opinion on their perspective.
Often, treating cats with prescription diets is a balancing act, but it’s generally not a good idea to mix prescription food and regular food. It will always reduce the effectiveness of prescription food, and sometimes, this may be a severe issue.
Are There Exceptions?
There may be exceptions. It is not unusual for a vet to recommend mixing some regular food into the dish to start with. Some cats do not like an abrupt change to their diet and may refuse to eat the new food at first.
In these instances, adding a bit of the cat’s regular food, to begin with and gradually reducing the quantity may help because the food will not smell and taste as distinctly different. However, the goal is usually to reduce the addition of regular food until your cat is exclusively eating the prescription food.
This may take a few weeks, but it should be what you work toward each day.
In some cases, your vet may advise you to keep mixing regular food in, but this is rare because it spoils the care that has gone into formulating the prescription food and will make its effectiveness hard to measure.
What Kinds Of Prescription Foods Are There?
Several types of prescription feline cat food are formulated to cure several illnesses. Below are a few of the foods that veterinarians may prescribe.
Urinary Support Food
Is designed to support cats that have problems urinating, and there are a few different brands. Urinary issues are lifelong, so if your cat suffers from them, it will need to keep eating this food throughout its life.
The food is designed to help dissolve existing urinary stones and prevent new ones from forming. Mixing it with regular food will prevent the food from achieving the needed mineral balance. This will increase the risk of more issues.
Renal Support Food
Kidney failure is common in cats that do not drink enough. It leads to nausea and lack of appetite, so this food will have extra calories and nutrients. In addition, it is designed to support kidney function and slow the progression of the disease.
You should not mix regular cat food with this if you can avoid it, although many cats reject this kind of food. Talk to your vet if you are having issues.
It will not surprise you to hear that you must not mix regular food in with allergen-free food, or you will trigger allergic reactions in your cat. If your cat is allergic to the common protein sources, any addition of regular food will cause a reaction.
Do not give your cat regular cat food even in small quantities if it suffers from allergies.
Again, a lifelong condition, the food that helps diabetic cats focuses on steady blood sugar levels and carbohydrate control. Your cat should not be given any regular cat food, as this could lead to a sugar crash that might be fatal.
Gastrointestinal Support Food
Gastrointestinal diseases vary, but they are usually managed via the cat’s diet. Not all gastrointestinal disorders are lifelong, but it’s essential to provide appropriate food regardless of their longevity.
This formula will have easy to digest proteins and will support the functioning of your cat’s guts. Putting other foods into your cat’s system, even during a short-term illness, will put unnecessary stress on the digestive process and may significantly set back the cat’s recovery. So stick to the prescription food.
Dental Care Food
Although dental issues need to be taken seriously, this food can occasionally be mixed with regular food. The food’s fibrous nature will still help clean your pet’s teeth, and no harm will be done by eating regular cat food mixed in.
Overall, you should only be mixing regular food into prescription food if you have been told to do so by a vet that you trust. Usually, prescription foods need to be fed in isolation. This allows them to work as they were designed to. And it is the only way to ensure that they are effective.
Don’t mix other foods in, or give your cat treats that could cause its issues to flare up. A prescription diet can be hard work, but if your cat needs one, stick to it!
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